Progress report on water saving initiatives at UCT

24 April 2018 | From the VC’s Desk

Dear students and colleagues

With your help, the University of Cape Town (UCT) has made significant progress in reducing our use of municipal water. While we have not yet attained our goal of cutting water consumption by 50%, I am writing to report on the good work that has been done so far.

I cannot emphasise enough that while the institution as a whole is seeking to address this critical challenge – not only in view of the water shortage, but also because of the crippling financial cost if we exceed our allocated usage – your individual effort also makes a remarkable difference. The individual goal is to use less than 50 litres per person per day, whether we are on campus, in residence or at home.

I want to thank each of you for your commitment to the task of reducing our water use. Please keep up the good work and be encouraged by our progress.

The Water Task Team, under the management of Dr Kevin Winter and the oversight of Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Loretta Feris, has worked closely with the appropriate departments at UCT to complete the following tasks over the last few weeks:

  • All leaks in the upper campus dam (above the Sports Centre) have been plugged, and water from the dam is now being used to irrigate the sports fields. In this way we are able to maintain these important assets without using any municipal water.
  • Three water tanks, with a combined capacity of 30 000 litres, have been installed above the soccer field on Upper Chapel Road to collect seepage water from the canal that runs behind Welgelegen. We are collecting this water for the irrigation of the cricket oval and soccer fields.
  • Possible borehole sites have been surveyed and are now under consideration to see whether it would be cost effective to use groundwater within the legal conditions and sustainable thresholds.
  • Water-saving aerators are being installed on taps in Obz Square, Rochester and the New Engineering Building.
  • A total of 238 new water-efficient washing machines are being installed in residences. Each machine uses 100 litres less water per wash and reduces washing cycle time from 40 to 23 minutes. Clothes are also drier at the end of the wash cycle, which reduces the electricity and time needed to tumble-dry them.
    Read about the new water-efficient washing machines...
  • UCT has installed water-saving shower roses in some residences and distributed 7 000 buckets for students to capture grey water for use in flushing toilets. (An average toilet flush uses 6 litres of water.) This is an important step in saving water in residences, and it is critical for res students to make use of this simple strategy.
  • Residences are participating in a water-saving campaign to encourage each res student to find ways to help reduce water consumption.
    Read about water-saving tips...
  • A total of 13 smart digital water meters have been installed to provide reliable information on the average consumption of water across campus, and to help identify possible leakages. There are meters on upper campus and in Obz Square, Forest Hill, Kopano, Baxter, Smuts Hall and Fuller Hall residences. Another 16 smart meters will be installed at various locations on campus, with more units to be installed in the coming months. These meters are in a testing phase and we will communicate data on water usage across the campus in the future.
  • There are 42 water champions across UCT’s campuses who are helping to build water awareness and ensure that water conservation is a part of everything everyone does in their department.
    Read about the role of our water champions...
    Volunteer to be a water champion...
  • As part of the university’s water-saving campaign, a wide variety of digital tools and resources has been made available for free download. These include email signatures, decals, flyers, posters and social media covers. Please make use of these marketing materials wherever possible to raise awareness and help to reduce UCT’s water use by half.
    Download the UCT water campaign tools and resources...
    Visit our Cape Town water crisis page...

I encourage you to keep challenging one another to make water saving a part of your daily routine. With your help, UCT can meet the goal of reducing our water consumption by half and become water sustainable into the future.


Dr Max Price

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